How to clean up college basketball

The game of college basketball has taken a considerable amount of criticism from all corners. From the officiating to the rules, Geno Auriemma and Mark Cuban have called the men’s game “embarrassing,” “hard to watch,” and “a joke.” Here are some simple ways to improve the game.

1. Fix the shot-clock – A lot of college coaches don’t want the shot-clock altered one bit, mostly because each team has either three or four players who can’t create their own offense.

However, that’s exactly what the NCAA needs to do. By lowering it from 35 seconds to 24 seconds, the gap in minimum possessions per game goes from 36.36 (roughly) to 100.

That’s incredibly huge jump.

Some coaches say, “Well kids aren’t good at shooting these days,” or some stuff like that. Well, teams averaged 43.5 percent shooting from the field in Division I and 43.4 percent in Division III. Division II didn’t have the same data available, but we can assume that it’s field goal percentage was just as good or even better than Division I.

Division I teams averaged 67.6 points per game and Division III teams averaged 70.3 points per game, so the coaches who say there would be less scoring if the shot-clock was lowered is kind of a ridiculous statement. When you add in a minimum of 63.64 more possessions per game, scoring would only go up.

There would be 63.64 percent more possessions in college basketball due to the shot-clock being reduced by 11 seconds.

There were 764,220 possessions in Division I basketball this season, when there was a minimum limit of 415,594 possessions. That minimum number would jump up to 1,143,000 possessions, and if the game was played at the pace it was played this year, that would result in 1,521,780 possessions.

Now, with the shot-clock bumped down 11 seconds, that’s a 31 percent decrease. So, could possessions increase by 31 percent? That would come out to over 1,993,531possessions, if the pace happened to increase 31 percent off this year’s pace.

Teams averaged an abysmal .987 pure points per field goal attempt in Division I. Division III was slightly worse at .984.

In conclusion, all divisions of college basketball would have shoot much worse for scoring not to improve.

2. Add defensive three-seconds – It really isn’t much fun when shot-blockers just stand in the paint for the entire defensive possession. The NCAA needs to institute a defensive three-seconds in the lane, like in the NBA. First time it’s issued, it’s just a warning. However, the second time results in a technical foul assessed to the team. The offensive team will shoot just one free throw and keep possession. If the NCAA requires kids to stay in school for at least one year, it must also force all players to play defense. This can also help increase scoring, without a foul being called.

3. Unionize officials – Officials need to be made a part of the NCAA. Enough of officials being independent contractors. They need to be under the NCAA and put on a game restriction limit. Some college officials refereed over 90 games this season. The college basketball season is only four and a half months long, not including conference tournaments and the NCAA’s. That means some officials worked almost four games a week and were all over a specific region of the country. David Hall worked 99 games this season in 19 states. He worked games in the Pac 12, Mountain West, Missouri Valley and Big 12 conferences this season.

Make officials part of the NCAA and make sure that all referees, from Division I to Division III, are qualified for the division levels at which they are assigned. The officiating needs to be more consistent.

4. Let coaches coach players – What difference does it make if it’s July or January? College coaches should be allowed to work with their own players 12 months out of the year. Conducting organized practices shouldn’t be allowed, but why can’t organized workouts be conducted? This can also help with scoring, especially if coaches design drills based on the offense they run.

5. Technical fouls –  Technical fouls in college basketball are equal to an all-expenses-paid cruise trip in the Caribbean. A team gets two free throws and the ball, if it doesn’t have it already. Stop that. It should be two shots and the ball goes back to the team that was in possession of it prior to the technical being called.

6. Make everything reviewable – This goes only for conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament. The NCAA designates a fourth and/or fifth official to re-watch all plays that happen during a game. During all timeouts, the head official checks in with the two sideline officials to make sure nothing was missed during the most recent action. This way, time isn’t being taken away from the game, it’s used wisely.

I think these are some ideas that certainly have been discussed, but you never know how seriously any idea is considered.

Let me just say this: If baseball can change, college basketball certainly can change.

*Also, I don’t know if my math is correct. I could be off by a little or a lot. I’m not a mathematician.


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